Choosing Joy: A Framework for Intentional Holiday Happiness

The holiday season has this unique ability to fill our hearts with warmth, joy, and anticipation. Yet, for many of us, it can also bring an overwhelming sense of pressure, expectation, and emotional complexity. As we approach this time of the year, I invite you to embark on a journey with me toward reclaiming the joy and purpose of the holidays through intentional choice and mindset.


Eight years ago, on a day that marks the birth of my beloved son, I experienced the profound loss of my father. Since then, the holiday season has been tinged with bittersweet memories, making it a challenge to approach this time with genuine enthusiasm. Navigating these emotions as a mother, wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law has often felt like a tightrope between celebration and grief.


Yet, amidst these challenges, I discovered a transformative tool—a modified version of a corporate strategy called START/ STOP / CONTINUE. It’s a powerful tool for personal reflection, identifying areas of opportunity, and maximizing effort for making significant changes. Honestly, I always found the words START/STOP/CONTINUE a little too cut and dried when trying out/experimenting with new behaviors. So, I changed the words to TRYING ON/SETTING ASIDE/DOUBLING DOWN. 


  • TRYING ON invites exploration of something new, being curious and an openness to adjust if needed.
  • SETTING ASIDE gently nudges the release of what no longer serves us while 
  • DOUBLING DOWN empowers us to invest in what brings genuine joy and fulfillment.  


 I used this tool to reshape how I approach the holidays this year. This tool isn’t just about setting boundaries; it’s a framework for intentional decision-making and mindset shaping. (and I think it is pretty fun, too!)


This tool became my guiding star in redefining the holiday experience. Here’s how I am creating a more delightful holiday season!


What I am inviting into my holiday season:

  • Spaciousness: Making room in my calendar, thoughts, and physical space.
  • Create more FUN: Choosing enjoyable experiences with loved ones.
  • Freedom to Choose: Stepping away from obligations and expectations.


What I am setting aside this holiday season:

  • Shoulds and Oughts: Shedding expectations that don’t nourish my spirit.
  • Comparing: Embracing unique celebrations that resonate with my Family.
  • Spending to Spend: Intentionally directing time, money, and energy.


What I will double down on this holiday season:

  • Being Family-Focused: Building new, meaningful experiences with loved ones.
  • Creating delight: Finding joy in personal connections and surprises.
  • Owning My Choices: Empowering myself to say yes to what aligns with my values.


This tool can be a beacon of guidance for others navigating the holiday season. So, I’m thrilled to share a FREE PDF Template that you can use to craft your own holiday experiences. It’s not just about planning; it’s about infusing your celebrations with purpose, meaning, and joy aligned with your vision and values.


Let’s embrace this mindset and make this holiday season truly magical together. Join me in creating moments that resonate with our authentic selves and allow us to cultivate cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


I am wishing you a season filled with love, joy, and meaningful connections.


Nea Clare

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